Health and Safety in Our Schools

COVID-19 Vaccinations Town Halls for Families

The DOE, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, is hosting two town halls for families of DOHMH, is hosting two town halls for families of children ages 5-11 regarding the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Families should register in advance for one of the town hall sessions, which will both cover the same content and be held via Zoom; translations will be provided via the call-in numbers shown in each registration link:

Translated fliers will be available shortly.

March 7 Face Covering Update

We are pleased to announce that, face coverings will be optional on school grounds for students in kindergarten through grade 12 beginning Monday, March 7.

To maintain the safety of our staff and students, we will continue to practice strict COVID-19 protocols, including increased ventilation, a daily health screening, and test kit distribution. Mask-wearing will become optional indoors, outside, and on school buses. Anyone who chooses to wear a mask may continue to do so, and your child may request a mask from their school if they need one.

The indoor mask mandate is still active for LYFE, EarlyLearn (Infants & Toddlers), 3-K, Pre-K, and 4410 classrooms. Children two years old and older, and all staff in these classrooms, must continue to wear a face covering indoors. Since children under the age of five are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine, face coverings remain our strongest defense against COVID-19 for our youngest learners.

In addition, any staff member or student in grades Kindergarten or higher returning on Day 6 following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis or after having COVID-like symptoms is still required to wear a well-fitting mask at all times on school property through Day 10.

Masks are strongly recommended for any staff member or student who knows they have been exposed to COVID-19 within the previous 10 days. Mask wearing is still required in medical rooms and nurses’ offices, as well as in School Based Health Centers. Nurses will have masks on hand for anyone entering who may need one. 

COVID-19 Guidance Charts

We recognize that families need clear information to help them make decisions related to COVID-19. While you can read about our policies in detail below, you can also refer to the following flowcharts that outline the steps you should take if your child feels sick, was exposed to COVID-19, or tested positive for COVID-19.

Shortened Isolation and Quarantine Periods

We know how important it is to keep our schools and classrooms open for learning, and we have done everything we can to make sure our classrooms are equipped to be safe learning environments. In light of recent changes by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New York State Department of Health, the Department of Education will implement shortened isolation and quarantine periods starting January 31. 

Isolation Period

The isolation period for K-12 students with a positive COVID-19 test result has been shortened to five day from ten days. This means if your child tests positive for COVID-19 and is in kindergarten or higher, your child can return to school on Day 6. 

  • Children can return from isolation on Day 6 if they have no symptoms or their symptoms are improving, and they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
  • Students returning from isolation on Day 6 must wear a well-fitting mask such as a KN95, KF94, or a cloth mask over a disposable surgical mask on Days 6–10.

Children in Pre-K and under who test positive for COVID-19 still must isolate for 10 days. 

Please be aware that any child (in any grade) who has completed their isolation period is NOT required to show proof of a negative test result before being allowed to return to school or work. 

Shortened Quarantine for COVID-19 Exposure 

The quarantine period for students exposed to COVID-19 has been shortened. Students in K-12 will continue to use home test kits to stay in school after an in-school exposure.

  • If your child is NOT fully vaccinated and was exposed to COVID-19 outside of a school setting, your child must quarantine for at least 5 days; this is reduced from 10 days.
  • If your child is fully vaccinated and was exposed outside of school, your child can continue to attend school so long as they do not have any symptoms.
  • All students are required to wear masks while on school grounds, and students who were exposed must wear a well-fitting mask such as a KN95, KF94, or a cloth mask over a disposable surgical mask on Days 6–10. 

NEW! Children who are at least 2 years old in LYFE, 3-K, and Pre-K only need to quarantine for five days if they are symptom-free, have a negative test, and are able to wear a well-fitting mask through Day 10. This has been shortened from ten days. 

  • These children must have a negative COVID-19 test from a health care provider on Day 5 OR two negative home test results from Day 4 and Day 5.
  • Fully vaccinated children aged 5 in Pre-K settings do not need to quarantine after an exposure.

Children under 2 years old in LYFE must still quarantine for up to ten days. There is no change in this policy. 

  • These children can return to school on Day 8 if they are symptom-free and have a negative COVID-19 test from a health care provider on Day 5 or later. Home tests are not considered valid for this age group unless administered at the direction of a health care provider. 

Any child in a LYFE, 3-K, or Pre-K classroom that was exposed but does NOT get tested for COVID-19 can return after completing a 10-day quarantine.

Get Tested

Rapid Testing at Home

Schools are distributing free, take-home COVID-19 rapid test kits to any students or staff who exhibit COVID-like symptoms or have been in a classroom where a positive case has been identified. Anyone who tests positive on a take-home test should immediately report it to the school and begin isolating. All students, staff and visitors must pass the DOE health screener in order to enter school buildings. No other proof of a negative result is required in order for these students to enter the school building. 

Consent for In-School Testing

Regular COVID-19 testing provides school communities and public health experts with valuable information. Every school will randomly test, on a weekly basis, students who have submitted consent for testing. This way, if there is a positive case, action can be taken right away to protect the school community.

It is important that you provide consent for your child to participate in the in-school testing program.

Find a COVID-19 Testing Site

All New York City students and staff members are strongly encouraged to get tested. Working in partnership with the Test+Trace Corps, families and staff members can go to any City-run testing sites to get tested or pick up readily available at-home rapid tests.

  • To find a testing site offering rapid tests, visit nyc.gov/covidtest, text “COVID TEST” to 855-48, or call 311

Daily Health Screening

Every student and staff member must complete the Health Screening Form prior to entering the school building each day. Anyone entering the building must confirm that they are not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, have not recently tested positive for COVID-19, and are not currently required to quarantine based on close contact with an infected person. If you need a thermometer to check for a fever, you can request one from your school.

If a student or staff member is feeling ill, they must stay home and get tested, which is an effective way of protecting the whole school community. Every school will have a nurse on staff to whom students can report if they are feeling ill.

Translated versions of the updated health screening form will be available the week of March 7. 

Get Vaccinated

  • Get more information about where to get vaccinated (or call 877-VAX-4-NYC).
  • We strongly encourage the COVID-19 vaccination for all age-eligible students.

All DOE students and staff who participate in high-risk PSAL sports or competitive afterschool sports must be vaccinated against COVID-19. “Fully vaccinated” means at least two weeks have passed after an individual received a single dose of a vaccine that requires only one dose or the second dose in a two-dose series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization.

A COVID-19 vaccination requirement also applies to students participating in high-risk after school extracurricular activities like chorus, musical theater, dance/dance team, band/orchestra (with concern for woodwinds), marching band, cheerleading/step teams/flag team. Students ages five and up must be vaccinated in order to participate in these extracurricular activities.

Vaccination Portal

Families are encouraged to record their student’s vaccination status in the DOE's COVID-19 Vaccination Portal. Submitting this information will support New York City’s pandemic response and recovery efforts, and help ensure that DOE schools and buildings remain safe places for all students and staff.

  • Students and their families can access the Vaccine Portal with the student's DOE account login credentials (email and password).
  • Visit the DOE Student Account page or help setting up or accessing your child’s account.

The Vaccine Portal will ask you to identify the type of vaccine, where you received it (in or out of New York City) and when you received the vaccine, and will prompt you to upload the image or screenshot of the proof of vaccine.

  • Proof of vaccination can be an image of a vaccination card, NYS Excelsior Pass, or other government record.
  • Take the image or screenshot and save it to your computer for uploading into the portal.
  • The portal can be translated using Google Translate.

Privacy and Security

The privacy and security of your information will be protected by technical, physical, and administrative safeguards, including encryption. This information will be kept confidential in accordance with federal, state, and local laws.

Technical Support

If you encounter technical issues using the Vaccination Portal, please contact the DOE Help Desk by calling 718-935-5100.

School Visitor Policy

All visitors must show proof of at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination to enter a DOE school building. Visitors do not include students attending school or school related activities in a DOE school building.

Acceptable proof of vaccination is one of the following:

An acceptable COVID-19 vaccination includes one dose of any COVID-19 vaccine fully authorized or authorized for emergency use by the FDA or WHO.

School Closure

Schools will be closed only when it is determined by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) that there is widespread transmission in the school. With the health and safety measures in place, we expect that school closures will be limited.

Ventilation

Good ventilation is essential to prevent COVID-19. Over the past year and a half, ventilation in every single classroom across the city has been inspected, updated, and repaired as needed. Every DOE room in use by students and staff for extended periods of time will have fully operational ventilation through either natural, mechanical, or a combination of means.

As an added precaution, every classroom across New York City has been provided with two air purifiers. Cafeterias in bigger schools will be provided with large air units for added protection and window-based exhaust fans to provide additional air circulation, and we continue to increase ventilation in classrooms and schools. These measures meet or exceed guidance from the CDC.

  • You can check the ventilation status of your child’s school online: use Find a School to locate your school's page, which includes a section on Building Ventilation Information.
  • If a room in your child’s school does not have adequate ventilation, it will not be used.

Cleaning

All classrooms and common areas, such as auditoriums and gyms will have hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes available. High-touch” areas such as doorknobs and water fountains will be cleaned multiple times throughout the day, and each classroom will be deep cleaned and disinfected daily using electrostatic technology.

Outdoor Learning

Last year, 840 schools took advantage of the innovative Outdoor Learning Initiative to expand their students’ “classrooms”. Schools will continue to use school yards, street space, and parks to provide additional space for learning. Schools in areas hardest hit by COVID-19 will continue to receive priority for the program.

Medically Necessary Instruction

Every year, there are some students with medical conditions that necessitate interim educational services outside of the school building. These services are offered for school-aged children (from 3K to grade 12) in all five boroughs, and can include individual in-person instruction by a certified teacher, or individual and group instruction by certified teachers through digital platforms.

Taking COVID-19 into consideration, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has determined that students who have one of the following conditions would be provisionally approved for medically necessary instruction:

  • Active Cancer
  • Chronic Renal Diseases
  • Sickle Cell
  • Gastro/Crohn’s Disease
  • Thalassemia
  • Leukemia
  • Metabolic Disorders
  • Heart Conditions
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Adrenal Disorder
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Liver Disease
  • Tumor
  • Congenital Lung Disease
  • Congenital Heart Condition
  • Lymphoma
  • Cerebral Ataxia
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Any family with a student who is immunocompromised due to a medical condition or treatment for an orthopedic, non-orthopedic/medical, or psychiatric reasons a medical condition may apply for medically necessary instruction. Applications from families with any condition not listed will undergo review to determine eligibility.

Watch the Video 

Learn about COVID-19 Vaccine for 5 to 11 Year-Old Children

Dr. Torian Easterling, First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene joins Marisol Rosales, the DOE's Senior Deputy Chancellor to discuss the vaccine and answer questions.

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